April 3, 2014
4 Nisan 5774
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In This Issue
Parshat...Tazria...Shabbat Hachodesh
Youth and Family Activities
Learning Opportunities

Parshat Metzora

Rabbi Leonard A. Sharzer, M.D.


When I tell people that Parashat Metzora and Parashat Tazri·a, which we read last week, are among my favorite parashiyot, they often respond, "Well of course, you were a physician and they are filled with medical information." But if Tazri·a and Metzora are to be read as medical texts, there would be very little point in reading them at all. For one thing, the dominant subject of the texts is something called tzara'at and we really have no idea what that is. Though often translated as leprosy, modern scholarship is quite consistent that whatever the condition is, it is not what modern medicine knows as leprosy. More importantly, besides not knowing what the described condition really is or precisely what some of the specific terms mean, I would like to suggest that these chapters were never intended to be read as medical texts. There is no discussion of etiology; that all comes in commentaries which seetzara'at as a punishment for sin, typically the sin of slander or gossip (lashon ha-ra). Nor is there any mention of prevention or of treatment, which we would expect even in ancient times if this were in any way intended as a medical treatise. Rather, what we have is a manual that instructs the priests if, when, and how to perform purification rituals on the affected individuals after recovery.

The Kli Yakar, the 17th-century biblical commentator, interpreted these texts allegorically. He wrote that they are speaking about spiritual maladies and what kinds of transgressions would have led to the state of tum'ah (impurity) described in the Torah. But I believe even this metaphoric approach, with its attention to the details of physical conditions and the associated purification rituals, is missing the forest for the trees.

I believe there is something else going on here altogether. The narrative arc of Parashat Metzora moves from a discussion of the reentry ritual of persons following recovery from the skin afflictions of tzara'at, to tzara'at which affects the walls and contents of individuals' houses, to a discussion of genital discharges (zav/zavah) in men and women. It is a movement from more public manifestations to more private manifestations of these conditions. Lesions of the skin are apparent to anyone with whom the one afflicted comes into even the most superficial social contact. One's house is more private, shared with family and close friends. Tzara'at in the house or of the house can be hidden from the general public but not from those one holds more closely. Finally, genital discharges, the most private, are hidden from all but those with whom we are most intimate, and sometimes known only to the one affected. And yet all require some level of separation and some ritual for reentry into an intimate relationship, a domiciliary relationship, a social/public relationship.


Rabbi Leonard A. Sharzer, MD, is associate director for bioethics of the Finkelstein Institute for Religious and Social Studies, JTS 


 Click here to continue reading 

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for additional insights on this week's parsha and others, visit The JTS Torah Commentary archive: 

Ralph Williams 
B'nai Israel Synagogue is delighted and honored 
to welcome 
Professor Ralph Williams 
April 11th and 12th. 


Shabbat Schedule

Friday, April 11th

6 p.m. Services, Sanctuary

7 p.m. Dinner by advanced reservation only

click for dinner reservation form* 

8:15 p.m., Sanctuary

Professor Williams will speak: 

"The Transition from Slavery to Freedom"

There will be a supervised youth room from 7-9 p.m. for children ages 12 and under.

Saturday, April 12th

9 a.m.  Services, Sanctuary

1 p.m., Sanctuary

Professor Williams will speak in the sanctuary:

"We Each Came Out of Egypt".

There will be a supervised youth space from 1-2 p.m. for children ages 12 and under. 

*dinner reservations MUST be received with payment in full by April 6th.
The community is welcome to attend.

A complete schedule of religious services at B'nai Israel Synagogue during the Passover Holiday may be accessed by clicking here.

May Their Memories Be For a Blessing 

April Yahrtzeits

4/1/2014 (1 Nisan)              

Stuart E. Allen

4/2/2014 (2 Nisan)              

Leonard Kershenbaum

4/5/2014 (5 Nisan)              

Bennie Mirkin

4/6/2014 (6 Nisan)              

Jonas Dworin

4/7/2014 (7 Nisan)              

Harold Milton Ellias

4/9/2014 (9 Nisan)              

Sam Leaderman

4/10/2014 (10 Nisan)          

Jack Chitkin

4/11/2014 (11 Nisan)          

Libby Rubinstein

Sidney Wechselfeld

4/14/2014 (14 Nisan)          

Jolyn Freedman

Sadie Weiss

4/15/2014 (15 Nisan)          

Mimi Schloss

4/17/2014 (17 Nisan)

Esther Manko

4/18/2014 (18 Nisan)          

Goldie Chaner

Rose Kaye

Rose Kleinbard

4/19/2014 (19 Nisan)          

Bluma Stark

4/22/2014 (22 Nisan)          

Shmuel Muchkies

4/23/2014 (23 Nisan)          

Julius Abramson

4/26/2014 (26 Nisan)          

Ida (Huddle) Band

Lottie Kwiatek

4/28/2014 (28 Nisan)          

Sara Garber

Morris Soloway

  To make a donation to commemorate a yahrtzeit, please click here.  If you are a member of the synagogue and a yahrtzeit for your loved one is not on the list, please contact the synagogue office so we can update our records.

   Please click here if you wish to permanently memorialize a loved one by purchasing a yahrtzeit plaque.  

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phone:  248-432-2729
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Shabbat Metzora
Friday, April 4th
6 p.m. Kabbalat Shabbat/Maariv,
Saturday, April 5th 
9 a.m. Services, Sanctuary
Kiddush Lunch is sponsored by Udi, Gil, Alon, and Avi Kapen and their families in honor of Rachel Kapen's 75th birthday.
10 a.m. Supervised Youth activities, lower level
11 a.m.  Shabbat Children's Workshop, lower level led by Michael Wolf
11 a.m.  Teen D'var Torah Cocoa Cafe, Social Hall
There is a Shabbat Shiur in the chapel today prior to minha, led by Dr. Mitch Parker:  "Is the Lego Movie Good for the Jews?"  Prior viewing of the movie is not necessary. 
Interested in learning or polishing up on birkat hamazon? just click here! 
Click here to help with Kiddush Lunch
*Kiddush Lunch is available through donations to the Kiddush Lunch Fund, the generosity of weekly sponsors, and volunteer efforts of our congregants and regular attendees.  Please e-mail or call the synagogue office if you would like to sponsor a kiddush lunch.  To sponsor as part of a "group," please e-mail Joanna Abramson or Mindy Shuback. You may also make a donation to the Kiddush Lunch Fund by clicking here.To sign up to help prepare Kiddush Lunch please use the "volunteer spot" button above.
To Jeremy and Rachel Baruch on the birth of their new son on March 28th.  Mazel Tov to grandparents Murray and Linda Baruch, Bob and Tobie Levine, to uncle and aunt  Adam Baruch and Sarah Baruch, and to great- grandparents Ann and Leonard Baruch. 
To Roxane Newhouse for sponsoring minyan breakfast in honor of Brian's double chai anniversary of being cancer free.  Wishing Brian continued good health.

 It is customary to "sell" all hametz in you possession prior to Passover.  CLICK HERE FOR THE HAMETZ SALE DOCUMENT/CONTRACT.
Community Opportunities
The Jews of Detroit:
Past, Present and Future, a symposium
April 6, 2014 
McGregor Conference Center, Wayne State University

Upcoming TKA/BI Joint Opportunities 
TKA/BI Women's Seder 
April 8th, 2014 6-9 p.m., TKA/BI Social Hall.  Kosher Dairy.   Please rsvp to tkasisterhood@hotmail.com
 or call Connie Silver: 248-851-2149

Bookstock 2014 
Sunday, April 27-Sunday, May 4th
Laurel Park Place, Livonia
Used Book and Media Sale, Supporting the Need to Read
Click www.bookstock.info for complete information.  
Upcoming Youth and Family Activities

Family Night at Minyan, one Sunday/month.  
Bring your family to help make minyan at 5 p.m. and enjoy pizza dinner in the social hall following services. MARK YOUR CALENDAR:   4/27, 6/1.
Pesach Day Camp  

Upcoming Shabbat Youth Activities 

SHABBAT CHILDREN'S WORKSHOP DATES for youth ages 7-12. 30 minutes of tefilla and parsha fun. 

11-11:45 a.m., ROOM 9
April 5th, MAY 3 (10:30 A.M.)  JUNE 7 YOUTH SHABBAT


for ages 13-17, 
April 5th, May 3rd. 11:00-11:45 a.m., Social Hall 
Listen to the D'var Torah in the main sanctuary, then give your take over cocoa and cider.  Kiddush lunch following, with Spirited singing and Birkat Hamazon led by teens. e-mail teens@bnaiisraelwb.org for more information.  FUTURE DATES:
To stay current on all youth and family activities, contact Ilana Glazier to join the B'nai Israel Families Facebook Group.
Learning Opportunities
passover table SIYYUM, Erev Pesach
Monday Morning, April 14th
Attention first-borns and others!  
Joel Goldstein will lead us in a Siyyum, the celebratory conclusionary study of a section of rabbinic text, to suspend the customary fasting requirements of Tzom Bechorot, the Fast of the First Born. Joel has just completed the Mishnaic Seder (order) of Tehorot.
     First born traditionally fast from dawn on Erev Pesach until the seder begins, as a statement of thanksgiving to God for sparing the Israelite first born in the plague of the first born in Egypt.  
    We will enjoy a final hametz breakfast following the siyyum. 

Adult Education
"Reflections on the Siddur," with Dr. Mitch Parker
Saturdays, 11-11:45 a.m.
April 12 and 26    May 10 and 24    June 7 and 21
Mitch will focus on Ashrei, Aleinu, the Kaddish, Adon Olam, Yigdal, Hallel and Birkat Hamazon. 
Class meets in the lower level, Room 9.

SHABBAT CLASS with Dr. Mitch Parker:    Lego Movie

12:45 P.M., CHAPEL prior to Minha
"A Hero named Emet:  Is the Lego Movie Good for the Jews?" 
Previously viewing the movie is not a requirement for the class.

Lunch and Learn Series 
with Hillel Buechler, Ramah Fellow lunch and learn
First Tuesday of every month
Next session:  12:15 p.m., April 8th.
Meet at Barnes and Noble on Orchard Lake Road Bring your own lunch.  There is no charge to attend.   Please e-mail Hillel Buechler if you plan to attend.

Shabbat Shiur Series
Shabbat Afternoons, last Saturday of the month following lunch and prior to minha. Shiur (class) will meet in the chapel.  All our welcome.  There is no charge to attend. 
Future Dates: May 10th, June 21st.  Click here for schedule and list of presenters. 
Want to brush up on your prayer skills, tropes or birkat hamazon? Click here.
Mazel Tov 
Happy Birthday!

Birthday Cake


  3 Mitch Parker

  3 Miry Serlin

  4 Stephen Jacobson

  5 Deborah Balkin

  5 Michael Dorfman 

  6 Tillie Silverman 

  6 Dane Zeff

  7 Arnold Berlin

  8 Oscar Band      

  9 Nancy Kaufman

12 Brianna Dines

12 Arica Jacobson     

13 Regina Meisler

13 Matthew Orel

15 Eli Eisman

15 Cheryl Litt

16 Jonathan Abramson

16 Jack Friedman

18 Karen Rosen  

20 Cheryl Berlin  

21 Rachel Kapen

21 Jeffrey Lupovitch

21 Cooper Myers

22 Marvin Finkelstein

24 Elianna Orel

26 Evan Chudnow

26 Marvin Kozlowski

27 Noel Lawson

27 Adam Weingarden

27 Shira Wolf

30 Charles Seigerman

30 Nathan Soverinsky


Jewish Wedding  4 Martin & Sheila Kurland

  5 Vern & Karen Gordon

19 Louis & Sally Soverinsky

27 Michael and Carol Golob  

    To make a donation in honor of someone's birthday or anniversary, please click here.
If your birthday or anniversary information is not listed, please email the synagogue so we can update our records.

Caring Community Information

Refuah Sh'leimah/Wishing a Speedy Recovery.  

Please e-mail Michael Golob or call the synagogue: 248-432-2729 to add a name to our communal mishebeirach list.   


Shiva assistance: To assist in providing a shiva meal for BI member families and/or if you are able to lead a shiva minyan, please e-mail the synagogue.

USCJ logo
B'nai Israel Synagogue is affiliated with USCJ, United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism.